It is easy to call the folks behind Cry of Fear as geniuses in the realm of horror. Sure, it takes skill and talent to make a quick 5 minute YouTube video that's purely designed to scare the viewer. But when you have a fully interactive game with a character that the player controls, other characters that you must interact with, and an entire game environment that you must traverse and survive, making it constantly scary without blocking your player's progress is something that even the best games have trouble with. Take the first Resident Evil game for instance, it is genuinely scary, but as you acquire better weapons to progress you are confronted with less scary things and simply have to face down more powerful monsters. Cry of Fear manages to arm you with weapons but still keep you feeling like you are being haunted from beginning to end.
What is Cry of Fear?
Cry of Fear is a survival horror game where players take on the role of Simon, who wakes up in a very creepy town filled with deformed monstrosities and horrific spectral things. This is made worse by the fact that a very hostile entity called the Carcass seems to be set on turning this living nightmare turned up to the max just for Simon.
The goal of the game is for players to guide Simon away from danger, solve puzzles, figure out what happened in the past, and finally, find a way to get away from Carcass. It is not going to be an easy journey, and the game's heavy use of dark lighting and surreal elements is sure to keep any player on their toes.
Layers of Fright
It would be easy to say that jumpscares are a cheap scare tactic, but the reality is, they are not. It is hard to use a jumpscare successfully –and that is why plenty of games and films that use them feel cheap. Using this tool requires the good use of timing, balancing the events onscreen with music and manipulating player's emotions in order to make them susceptible to it –Cry of Fear does this right in such a consistent manner. They justify the use of jumpscares because it actually adds to the feeling of the game, instead of just blankly shocking you and making you feel pissed off (which is what a bad jumpscare does).
But this is not the only tool in their creative box, and the developer's mastery of horror shines through in the game. Even by the time you can double-wield items (such as gun in one hand and a light source in another), you constantly feel that you are one edge. The game makes the danger feel palpable and oppressive, and each encounter with the creepy things that populate the game will always end with you edging just a little bit further on your seat.
One of the things that people might notice about this game is that it is completely fee. Well, yes, it is. The game originally started out as a simple mod for Half-Life. The mod project was focused on creating a horror game experience with the game tools. However, since the work took a little bit long to finish, and the original Half-Life was no longer accessible, the developers simply chose to release the mod as a standalone playable game. And thus we got Cry of Fear.
Too Niche to be Known
The sad part about all this is that despite how amazing Cry of Fear is, it will never be regarded as a classic in the genre. It is simply too niche to be well known and too obscure to become an influence on later works by other developers. But as a standalone game experience, we highly recommend Cry of Fear to anyone who wants to experience a true horror game experience. And before you complain about the slightly outdated graphics (this was based on the original Half Life after all), remember that the developers also took the visuals into account with creating this game –those creepy screamy creatures that you encounter in this game makes full use of the engine's limitations and takes the graphical style as its own.